Plea deals in Modesto real estate scheme

09/06/2013 3:01 PM

09/06/2013 3:09 PM

The former owner of Century 21 Apollo in Modesto has agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges in a deal that should fetch a federal prison sentence of at least eight years.

James Lee Lankford and his husband, Jon Vance McDade, bilked $10 million from lenders and elderly homeowners in Modesto and Hughson, authorities said in a 49-count indictment.

Lankford, 74, will admit to seven counts, avoiding a possible maximum term of 20 years for each charge if found guilty at trial, according to the plea agreement.

McDade, who also goes by Jon Lankford since their marriage in July, according to his Facebook page, will be imprisoned for one day, according to his deal.

Neither agreement, both signed in late August, is valid until the men formally appear before a judge in federal court in Fresno, a U.S. attorney’s spokeswoman said. They are not in custody and no longer live in Modesto.

Attempts at setting a date have not been successful, so the government on Friday scheduled hearings for Lankford on Monday and for McDade the following week.

More than 10 victims lost more than $7 million under the counts listed in the plea deal.

Sentencing guidelines for Lankford suggest a range of eight to 10 years in prison; government attorneys agreed to recommend a sentence “at the low end,” the deal says, although Judge Anthony Ishii could consider other factors, including the victims’ vulnerability.

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